I'm always looking for good historical fiction books to read. And I came across Stephanie Thornton's fall release of Song of War. Well, you know I love Greek mythology, so I checked her out. She's a great writer with several novels set in the ancient world. So, let me introduce Stephanie Thornton.
1. You've written several historical fiction novels. Tiger Queens, The Secret History, Daughter of the Gods, and The Conqueror's Wife. What fascinates you about the ancient world?
I’ve always been a huge history fan. (I remember watching a documentary on the Titanic in 1st grade and being mesmerized by the underwater chandelier.) It’s amazing to look at an ordinary object—a lamp, toy, or statue—and wonder who owned it or what they were thinking when they held it. For my books, I was fascinated by the lives of powerful women, many of whom have been mostly forgotten. I just had to tell their stories!
2. Currently, you're in a collaborative writers' group working on a novel, Song of War. Tell us about your part in the project? What discoveries are you making about your character? Your research?
My section of Song of War is narrated by Cassandra, King Priam’s doomed seer of a daughter. I absolutely jumped at the chance to write her—was she truly mad or just misunderstood? The more I wrote her, the more I realized that she was one of the only sane people during the Trojan War which makes her story all the more bittersweet, considering all she endured during and after the war. As much as I wanted to give her a happy ending, no matter which source I researched, she was simply doomed.
3. So, you teach high school history and write. You are a busy person!! What do you enjoy about teaching high school? What courses do you teach?
I really enjoy being able to share my passion for history with my students and make it come alive. I doodle lecture the entire life of Alexander the Great, put Genghis Khan on trial, and re-enact the French Revolution. (Complete with guillotines, of course!) I teach World and American History, Government, and Psychology.
4. Did you have a favorite high school teacher? Who was it and why were they your favorite? What would you tell that person now, if you could? (Or maybe you have already?)
My favorite teacher was my 9th grade World History teacher, Mrs. Waggoner. The school knew her as the Dragon Lady—she meant business, but I learned SO much! In fact, several of the simulations I use in my own classroom are inspired by hers. If I could go back in time I’d tell her how awesome she was, and that she was inspiring a future history teacher! And writer!
5. What's your favorite movie about the ancient world? Your least favorite movie about the ancient world? Why?
I really love the old version of Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor. It’s not terribly accurate, but it’s lush and incredibly well acted. My least favorite is probably the fairly recent version of Troy because they rewrote Homer, which is not cool! [I agree with you, Stephanie! I wanted to love that movie so hard, then I just couldn't].